TORONTO -- Though it is only an extended spring training game, Monday will be a significant day for Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. That contest in Fort Myers, Fla., will mark the first time the designated hitter has played in any type of game since Aug. 24 of last season.
Ortiz suffered a right Achilles tendon injury on July 20, 2012, and played just one game the remainder of the season. He had some inflammation in his heel during Spring Training, which prevented him from starting the season with the Red Sox.
"Very good day yesterday," Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He ran the bases, took swings in the cage, tracked Franklin Morales' sim game, had an additional six rounds of BP on the field. That was a full work day yesterday and that puts him in line for live at-bats tomorrow in an extended spring training game."
While Ortiz's daily symptoms will be the deciding factor for his timetable to return, the tentative plan is that he will play in three extended spring games. That would put the left-handed slugger on track to start a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket as early as Thursday.
He could join the Red Sox a week or so after that.
Iglesias set to start Fenway opener; Drew delayed
TORONTO -- When the Red Sox play their home opener Monday afternoon at Fenway Park against the Orioles, Jose Iglesias will be the starting shortstop.
Stephen Drew originally hoped to make his debut then, but a postponement at Double-A Portland on Saturday due to cold weather means that Drew will play Sunday and Monday to complete his rehab assignment. Drew suffered a concussion on March 7, when he was hit on the helmet by a pitch, and will debut for the Sox on Wednesday.
"I think just talking with him late yesterday afternoon, he felt an additional eight to 10 at-bats would be helpful," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's starting to feel much more comfortable, but he felt like two additional games, to go nine innings each day, would put him in a better position to return to us."
Iglesias returned to the lineup Sunday, two days after he was hit on the right forearm by a 93-mph fastball from Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson.
"Even yesterday, he was available, but we had planned a down day for him, day game after the night game, just trying to balance guys not being accustomed to the turf here," Farrell said. "Jose is fully ready to go."
Newest Red Sox excited for Fenway opener
TORONTO -- Monday should make a far more pleasant homecoming for the Red Sox than the past two seasons, when they arrived at Fenway Park 0-6 and then 1-5 a year ago.
Instead, they will be 4-2 after blowing out Toronto, 13-0, in Sunday's series finale at Rogers Centre.
"I think the guys are looking forward to the energy that Fenway and our fans give us," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We've been two months in Florida and another week-plus on the road. I think, all things considered, everybody is looking forward to getting back. It should be an exciting day tomorrow."
It will be the first chance for the club's newcomers to experience a home opener with the Red Sox.
"I'm looking forward to it," said closer Joel Hanrahan. "That's something I've been waiting for since I got traded here, was to get home and see what it's like being at Fenway and getting a chance to play there in front of the home fans."
One of the biggest ovations of the day will likely go to 22-year-old outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who won a spot on the team after an outstanding Spring Training.
"Oh, it's definitely going to be a lot of fun, that's for sure. I think it's going to be exciting, more than anything, just to play in front of the hometown fans. I'm ready to get there," Bradley said.
The 2:05 p.m. ET start against the Orioles will be preceded by the usual festivities, which are expected to begin at 1:30.
One dominant theme will be the Red Sox paying tribute to the cancer-fighting Jimmy Fund, as the Sox and the Jimmy Fund are celebrating the 60th season of their official partnership.
The Jimmy Fund Chorus will sing the national anthem prior to the game and God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. And, of course, there will be a flyover, featuring two vintage P-51 Mustangs at the conclusion of the anthem.
The Merlin-powered P-51 Mustangs, which first entered World War II combat in December 1943, are provided by the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, and will be piloted by Charles Hainline and Vlado Lenoch.
Several Jimmy Fund patients who have been treated over the last 60 years will participate in the ceremonial first pitch.
Nava's transition to first base impresses Farrell
TORONTO -- Daniel Nava added versatility to his game in Spring Training by making a seamless transition to first base, where the outfielder hadn't played since college.
Manager John Farrell saw enough good things that he had no hesitation in giving Nava the start at first for Sunday's game against the Blue Jays. That also gave Mike Napoli a chance to rest his feet from the Rogers Centre turf and serve as designated hitter.
It was Nava's third start of the season, with the first two at designated hitter.
Why did Nava get Sunday's start instead of Mike Carp, the team's other backup first baseman?
"The way he played in Spring Training. The way he's adapted, the way he's swung the bat. All things considered, that's why he's at first base," said Farrell. "I think he's made the transition and incorporated first base defensively pretty seamlessly."